Category Archives: Holiday Food

Easy Springtime Vegetables


During the Passover/Easter weekend I did a lot, a lot, A LOT of cooking — which also meant a lot of eating.  when I was planning the menu I wanted healthy and spring dishes.

Here are two bright, colorful, and healthy winners – Roasted Carrots with Parsley and Lemon Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower.

Roasted Parsley Carrots, adapted from The New York Times
2 pounds carrots, peeled, then cut in half  horizontally and then down the middle vertically
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
 
In a prep bowl drizzle the olive oil over the carrots and then sprinkle in the salt, pepper, thyme and oregano.
 
Lay the carrots on a foil covered baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes, or until fork tender.
 
Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.  Add parsley just before serving.
 
Lemon Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower, adapted from Martha Stewart
1 head broccoli (about 1 pound), broken into 1-inch florets
1 large head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), broken into florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 lemons, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and ground pepper
 
Prep the broccoli and cauliflower, wash, dry, and cut and place in large Ziploc bag or Tupperware. 
 
Add to the container the olive oil, salt and pepper, thinly sliced garlic and the lemon slices.  Close the container and shake thoroughly to fully coat all of the pieces with the oil, lemon and garlic.
 
I left my vegetable bag in the refrigerator overnight, but you could also skip right to the roasting.
 
Lay the contents of the bag onto a covered baking sheet and into a 450 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, longer for crispier vegetables.  Check the vegetables at the midway point and toss on the pan.
 
Serve warm or at room temperature.
 
 
These recipes were affordable to source, a cinch to prepare, healthy and kid approved.
 

Tradition, Tradition… or Not?


We’re just days away from two major holidays, Passover and Easter.  I grew up celebrating Passover and Mark’s family celebrates Easter and together we practice our family’s traditions and have created some new ones that are now all our own.

For us, the root of our traditions centers on our love of food.  Food brings people together, it sparks conversation, and it inspires people to learn more, share more, and love more.

This year for Passover, we’ll be doing a quiet Seder at home and we’ll be hosting a spring brunch on Sunday that will feature elements of both traditions.

As I do my menu planning, I continue to debate (with myself) what to make.  The trouble with tradition, or perhaps the reason for tradition, is that so many of the “traditional” foods are no longer part of our regular diet – dishes like low and slow cooked brisket, oversized matzo ball soup, kugels, honey cakes, are once, twice, maybe three times a year specialties.   But, that is what makes them special – heavy too – but always special.

Does a departure from the traditional Ashkenazi (Eastern European) menu in favor of a Latin/Asian/Sephardic (North African) inspired meal mean I am losing my traditions?  What would Tevye say?  Or is it a fun and inspired way to add new culinary skills to a millienia old meal?

These oil laden dishes are really most worth savoring because of the stories of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents that made the same dishes in their own kitchens once upon a time.

In the end I think I will continue to slowly and very subtly make adjustments to our menu, but one thing is for sure, we’ll eat lots and lots of matzo.

If you’re invited to a Seder or just want to have a sweet Passover friendly treat try this recipe out:

For Matzo Toffee – or Matzo Crack, depends on who you ask!
4 to 5 pieces of matzo*
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate, or semi-sweet chocolate chips
Toppings, as desired
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and/or parchment paper.
  • Place the matzo in one layer on the baking sheet, breaking it when necessary to fill the pan completely. Set aside.
  • In a large sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the mixture reaches a boil, continue to cook for an additional three minutes, still stirring, until thickened and just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and pour over the matzo, spreading an even layer with a heat-proof spatula.  Be super careful, this is a great way to burn a finger or a hand.
  • Put the pan in the oven, then immediately turn the heat down to 350 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes, watching to make sure it doesn’t burn. If it looks like it is starting to burn, turn heat down to 325.
  • After 15 minutes, remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the chocolate over the pan. Let sit for five minutes, then spread the now-melted chocolate evenly with a spatula.
  • You can leave it just as is, enjoying the simplicity. Or add your favorite toppings while the chocolate is still melted.   I like to add dried unsweetened fruit or blanched almonds or pistachios, steer clear of the peanuts, they are not kosher for Passover.

2011 Gift Guide: Edible Edition


This year, I really want to make some of my gifts, and since I was never one for shop class our friends and family can expect gifts made from chocolate and flours, not wood and glue.

I know, of course, that during the holiday season you’re able to find a variety of goods and gummies, but nothing says love, and hopefully “yum”, like something handmade and homemade.

Make: Spice Cookies, Pistachio Trees, Spiced Nuts, Savory Cookies, Caramel Sauce, Ginger Sesame Brittle, Meringues, Almond Bark, Gummy Drops

These edible gifts are my inspiration as I head into the kitchen.  There are a variety of flavors, textures and treats.  I love the idea of surprising bites, and taking classic and traditional treats and adding some sophisticated flavors to them.

What is your favorite edible gift to give?  Tell me in the comments!

Thanksgiving Recipes: The Best of the Web


Thanksgiving is just over two short weeks away and what better time to try new recipes than a holiday that is almost entirely focused on food?

We spend with a casual feast and a huge crowd of family and friends. Everyone signs on to bring a dish or many dishes and just as quickly as they are put out they starts to disappear.

In years past I have always left the cooking to my mom, but this year I am excited to try some new recipes.
Here are some of my favorites:

20111117-084154.jpg

Source (L-R): Caramel apples, Roasted Squash, Biscotti, Meatballs, Hand Pies, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower

I love the idea of mixing savory with sweet, and the fall produce that is featured during Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity.

I love the saltiness of cheddar paired with a crisp apple, the tartness of cranberries with a perfectly seasoned turkey, fresh aromatic herbs with the depth of autumn squash.

What are your Thanksgiving favorite recipes?

Whether you’re ordering in take-out Chinese, have a Whole Foods Thanksgiving, or hostessing like Martha, I hope you have a delicious, simple and stress free Thanksgiving!

Gluten Free Honey Apple Bread


I have a serious love for apples, and not just any old kind, my personal favorite is Honeycrisp apples.  They are a little tart, a lot of sweet, and only available in the fall.

Well, what do you know… it’s the fall and it’s Rosh Hashanah time and so there is barely a time that’s better for apples and honey than right now.

This easy recipe is great to have a round during a long holiday weekend, or to use up your favorite apples.

Gluten Free Honey Apple Bread
Ingredients
In a small bowl
2 cups Gluten Free Flour (Namaste Brand)
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
 
In a large bowl
1/2 cup of canola oil
1 apple sauce cup, about 4 oz.
2/3 cup of honey
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup of chopped apple, or about 1 large apple (Honeycrisp) – I like it really apple-y
Sprinkle of cinnamon and raw sugar
 

In a small  bowl sift the dry ingredients and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix with a whisk the oil, honey and apple sauce.  Here’s a tip first pour the oil, then when you pour the honey out of the same measuring cup it will slide right out.  When mixing you may need to give it a little muscle to break down the stickiness of the honey and to have a smooth liquid base.  Then add the vanilla and eggs.  Mix until fully combined.

Then slowly combine the dry ingredients into the wet.

When the two sets of ingredients are fully incorporated add the chopped apples and give it a good stir so that the apples get covered in batter.

Pour the batter into an oiled 9 x 5 pan, and bake for 55 – 60 minutes at 325 degrees.

This little bread isn’t too sweet and so it makes for a great breakfast or snack.  Try it warm with some butter, or cheese, or nut spread.

Enjoy!

Gluten Free Apple Muffins


Easy holiday, or anytime recipe, no dairy, no gluten, no sugar, no mixer!

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is quickly approaching and I am excited for the many baking opportunities.  It is customary to wish people a “Sweet New Year” and even more customary to enjoy the sweetness of the season’s bounty of fruits, particularly apples, with honey.

Frankly, I could eat apples and honey any time of day or year, but I realize that to snack or travel too far with this sweet snack can become a bit of a sticky situation.  So, instead, we have muffins.

Gluten Free Apple Muffins
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups of GF all purpose flour (Namaste brand)
1/2 cup of GF Oats
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
 
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
2 4oz. containers of unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup of agave syrup
1 large (Braeburn) apple grated
 
1/4 apple chopped and cinnamon for garnish
Set oven to 325 degrees

In a medium size bowl mix the flour, oatmeal, baking soda and cinnamon and salt.

In a separate larger bowl mix the canola oil, agave syrup, and vanilla extract.  Add to that the eggs and whisk by hand.  Then add the apple sauce and continue to mix.


Then using a box grater, grate a large apple into the wet ingredients.  I used a Braeburn apple, which has a sweet but tart flavor, but you could use whatever kind of apple you most prefer.  Fold the grated apple into the wet ingredients.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and continue to stir, stopping when the dry ingredients are completely incorporated and before you over mix.

Scoop large spoonfuls into muffin liners and then you can add slivers of chopped apples and a sprinkle of cinnamon to the top.  The apple sliver remind me of shark fins, but taste delicious, and serves as a hint of all the amazing apple goodness inside.

Bake for 25 minutes and then enjoy.  These are delicious alone, or with a pad of butter, smear of almond butter, or maybe even a slice of sharp cheddar.

This will be the first of many sweet things as we move into fall!

 

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes – Gluten Free/Dairy Free


Sometimes you just have to do your sweet tooth a favor, and by favor, I obviously mean indulge its cravings and drown it out in chocolate.  That’s pretty much the deal with anything that is triple chocolate, like these triple chocolate cupcakes.  I made them for a family gathering, because I wanted to accommodate everyone’s dietary restrictions, even if cupcakes typically fall outside of a diet.  And, the beauty of these cupcakes is that, even though they are dairy and gluten free, they are awesome!

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted from Elana’s Pantry, which is an amazing resource for anyone exploring GF baking

Ingredients

¼ cup coconut flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup vegan chocolate chips
¼ teaspoon kosher sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup agave nectar
Set oven to 375 degrees

Here’s the thing, with gluten free baking you might come across ingredients that seem a little “ehh” or just plain weird.  Frankly that is how I felt about the coconut flour, mainly because the smell and taste of coconut reminds me of a bottle of Banana Boat, but this high in fiber flour has no such smell or taste. So fear not!

Moving on… In a medium size bowl combine the coconut flour and coca powder, salt and baking soda.

In a separate and larger bowl, blend the oil, eggs and agave.  Then slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, and add the chocolate chips.

Scoop about 1/4 cup of batter into muffin wrappers and bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Check with a toothpick to make sure they are done and fully baked.

While the beautiful and very chocolatey cupcakes are cooling, get to work on the frosting.

Vegan Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients

3/4 cup dairy-free spread (Earth-Balance is also soy-free)
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
6 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium sized bowl mix the coca powder, and powdered sugar over the spread with a spoon.  Add the vanilla and then use a blender to fully incorporate and achieve the soft, whipped consistency of butter cream, you know without the butter.

Pour yourself a big, BIG glass of milk/soy milk/rice milk/almond milk and enjoy!

Easy Passover Desserts


Oh, did you forget tonight was Passover?  You forgot you were supposed to bring a dessert to your friend’s/coworker’s/cousin’s/mother-in-law’s house?  Oh you’re supposed to bring a dessert and you don’t have like an extra 6,000 eggs lying around, and matzah cake meal?

Do not worry.  Walk away from the bakery counter.  Matzah Toffee to the rescue!

The ingredients are simple, and because its basically sugar, butter and chocolate (and your creativity) it is hard to go wrong.  And you can get ready at the same time!

Ingredients:
5 sheets of matzah
1/2 stick of butter
1 cup of brown sugar (light or dark)
1 cup of chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Cover a cookie sheet in tin foil, and lay out the matzah.  

In a medium size sauce pot, over low heat, melt the butter and then add the brown sugar.  While stirring constantly, watch for the sugar to melt into the butter.  When it starts to bubble remove from the heat.  Off the stove add the vanilla, or other extract that you might like – or none at all, and the salt, and continue to stir.

With a heat-proof spatula spread the toffee mixture on top of the matzah getting as close to all four corners as possible.  

Put the entire tray into a warm oven of 250 degrees for 10-15 minutes. (Take a shower).

Out of the oven, sprinkle chocolate chips onto the hot toffee’d matzah and then tent the entire tray with tin foil and let it sit for 15 minutes.  When tented the heat will melt the chocolate and you’re free to do other things.  (Go do your make up).
Come back to the matzah and spread the chocolate with a knife or spatula and then be creative, sprinkle with a little sea salt, some chopped pistachios or almonds, or candied ginger.

Put the tray in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or longer.  (Dry your hair). When you’re ready to go, break into candy bar sized pieces.

Enjoy with family and friends – this sweet treat is perfect as a Passover dessert, hosting gift, or a quick snack.

Happy Passover!

Menu Planning for Passover


On Monday night our family will come over for a Passover Seder.  I am excited to start cooking and have been assembling a menu for weeks.


If you were eating at my house, this is what you’d get!

Herbed Salad

Mark’s Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
via The Daily Batch
Julie’s Charoset

Matzah Ball Soup
Homemade Matzah
via The Daily Batch

Smitten Kitchen’s Slow Cooked Brisket
via Smitten Kitchen

Herbed Potatoes

Roasted Asparagus
via Bon Appetit
Roasted Carrots

 Chocolate Mousse Pie in Coconut Macaroon Shell
Knowing myself I am sure there will be a few more items that sneak onto the table…  What are you favorite Passover foods?  If you’ve never celebrated is there anything you’re interested in trying?

Passover Humor


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I’ve got Passover on the brain; I am menu planning, I am planning to clean, and I am writing/revising a Haggadah (the book that is read during the Passover meal).  Least of my worries is what to wear for Passover.

Which is why I got a good laugh when my friend forwarded me this email from Rent the Runway:
Friends, there are few guarantees in life, but of this I can be sure.  I will not be wearing the Diane Von Furstenberg Taste of Elegance Dress for my taste of matzah.  It’s a beauty but you’d probably be better off wearing it to the next J-Date “Matzah Madness” Happy Hour.

For more Passover humor, with a techie twist, please watch this, laugh, and talk amongst yourself (in the comments!).